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Medical Expenses: What It Takes to Qualify for a Tax Deduction

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As we all know, medical services and prescription drugs are expensive. You may be able to deduct some of your expenses on your tax return but the rules make it difficult for many people to qualify. However, with proper planning, you may be able to time discretionary medical expenses to your advantage for tax purposes.

The basic rules

For 2019, the medical expense deduction can only be claimed to the extent your unreimbursed costs exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income (AGI). You also must itemize deductions on your return.

If your total itemized deductions for 2019 will exceed your standard deduction, moving or “bunching” non-urgent medical procedures and other controllable expenses into 2019 may allow you to exceed the 10% floor and benefit from the medical expense deduction. Controllable expenses include refilling prescription drugs, buying eyeglasses and contact lenses, going to the dentist and getting elective surgery.

In addition to hospital and […]

By |December 6th, 2019|deduction, deductions, expensing, medical deduction|0 Comments

Minimum Wage Raised in City of Petaluma

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A local minimum wage raise is coming for employees of the City of Petaluma. Effective Jan. 1, 2020, the hourly minimum wage rate for employers with 26 or more employees will be $15.00, and $14.00 for employers with fewer than 26 employees. By ordinance, the minimum wage must be adjusted annually, based on the Bay Area Consumer Price Index. This ordinance applies to all employees who work two or more hours per week in Petaluma and are covered by state minimum wage law. It doesn’t apply to federal, state or county agencies or school districts. A youth minimum wage rate applies to those who are ages 14 to 17 during the first 160 hours of employment in occupations new to them. If you have any questions, please contact your Linkenheimer CPA.

By |December 3rd, 2019|ca, CA tax, california|0 Comments

2 Valuable Year-End Tax-Saving Tools for Your Business

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At this time of year, many business owners ask if there’s anything they can do to save tax for the year. Under current tax law, there are two valuable depreciation-related tax breaks that may help your business reduce its 2019 tax liability. To benefit from these deductions, you must buy eligible machinery, equipment, furniture or other assets and place them into service by the end of the tax year. In other words, you can claim a full deduction for 2019 even if you acquire assets and place them in service during the last days of the year.

The Section 179 deduction

Under Section 179, you can deduct (or expense) up to 100% of the cost of qualifying assets in Year 1 instead of depreciating the cost over a number of years. For tax years beginning in 2019, the expensing limit is $1,020,000. The deduction begins to phase out on a dollar-for-dollar basis for 2019 when total asset acquisitions for the year exceed $2,550,000.

Sec. 179 expensing is generally available for most depreciable property (other than buildings) and off-the-shelf computer software. It’s also available for:

  • Qualified improvement property (generally, any interior improvement to a building’s interior, […]
By |December 3rd, 2019|bonus, depreciation, expensing, section 179|0 Comments

Wishing All a Happy Thanksgiving

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Here at Linkenheimer, we want to say thank you to our clients and community, who have given the opportunity to serve you over the past year. We say that “we want to change lives locally and abroad through the work we do, the relationships we develop and the charities we support” and we couldn’t do that without your help. We are grateful for the trust you’ve placed in us, the friendships that have developed and grown and we consider each of you part of the Linkenheimer team. So from all of us at Linkenheimer, we hope this season is filled with lots of happiness, joy, health, and prosperity. May your home be filled with love on this wonderful occasion. Happy Thanksgiving.

Bridging the Gap Between Budgeting and Risk Management

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At many companies, a wide gap exists between the budgeting process and risk management. Failing to consider major threats could leave you vulnerable to high-impact hits to your budget if one or more of these dangers materialize. Here are some common types of risks to research, assess and incorporate into adjustments to next year’s budget:

Competitive. No business is an island (or a monopoly for that matter). The relative strength and strategies of your competitors affect how your company should shape its budget. For this reason, gathering competitive intelligence and acting accordingly is a must.

For example, if a larger competitor has moved into your market, you may need to allocate more funds for marketing and advertising. Then again, if a long-time rival has closed up shop, you might be able to keep those costs the same (or even lower them) and channel more money into production as business picks up.

Compliance.

By |November 26th, 2019|business, Financial Reporting Framework|0 Comments

The Tax Implications if Your Business Engages in Environmental Cleanup

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If your company faces the need to “remediate” or clean up environmental contamination, the money you spend can be deductible on your tax return as ordinary and necessary business expenses. Of course, you want to claim the maximum immediate income tax benefits possible for the expenses you incur.

These expenses may include the actual cleanup costs, as well as expenses for environmental studies, surveys and investigations, fees for consulting and environmental engineering, legal and professional fees, environmental “audit” and monitoring costs, and other expenses.

Current deductions vs. capitalized costs

Unfortunately, every type of environmental cleanup expense cannot be currently deducted. Some cleanup costs must be capitalized. But, generally, cleanup costs are currently deductible to the extent they cover:

  • “Incidental repairs” (for example, encapsulating exposed asbestos insulation); or
  • Cleaning up contamination that your business caused on your own property (for example, removing soil contaminated by dumping wastes from your own manufacturing processes, and replacing it with clean soil) — if you acquired that property in an uncontaminated state.

On the other hand, remediation costs generally have to be capitalized if the remediation:

  • Adds significantly to the value of the cleaned-up property,
  • Prolongs the useful life of the property,
  • Adapts the property […]

What is Your Taxpayer Filing Status?

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For tax purposes, December 31 means more than New Year’s Eve celebrations. It affects the filing status box that will be checked on your tax return for the year. When you file your return, you do so with one of five filing statuses, which depend in part on whether you’re married or unmarried on December 31.

More than one filing status may apply, and you can use the one that saves the most tax. It’s also possible that your status options could change during the year.

Here are the filing statuses and who can claim them:

  1. Single. This status is generally used if you’re unmarried, divorced or legally separated under a divorce or separate maintenance decree governed by state law.
  2. Married filing jointly. If you’re married, you can file a joint tax return with your spouse. If your spouse passes away, you can generally file a joint return for that year.
  3. Married filing separately. As an alternative to filing jointly, married couples can choose to file separate tax returns. In some cases, this may result in less tax owed.
  4. Head of household. Certain unmarried taxpayers may qualify to use this status and potentially pay less tax. The […]
By |November 21st, 2019|tax implications, taxpayer|0 Comments

Affected by the Power Outages? Tax Relief May Be Available.

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Some tax relief is available for California taxpayers affected by the frequent power shutoffs that plague the state. The CA Franchise Tax Board is advising taxpayers impacted by the safety-related power blackouts that began in October 2019 that they may be eligible for penalty relief if the penalties are due to the shutoffs. Taxpayers in impacted counties may request penalty abatement upon a showing of reasonable cause. For details, go to https://bit.ly/2PzCN9r and arrow down to “Extended deadlines.” If you have questions about how the shut offs may have affected you or your business with concerns related to tax payments or penalties, please contact your Linkenheimer CPA. 

Using Your 401(k) Plan to Save This Year and Next

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You can reduce taxes and save for retirement by contributing to a tax-advantaged retirement plan. If your employer offers a 401(k) or Roth 401(k) plan, contributing to it is a taxwise way to build a nest egg.

If you’re not already contributing the maximum allowed, consider increasing your contribution rate between now and year end. Because of tax-deferred compounding (tax-free in the case of Roth accounts), boosting contributions sooner rather than later can have a significant impact on the size of your nest egg at retirement.

With a 401(k), an employee elects to have a certain amount of pay deferred and contributed by an employer on his or her behalf to the plan. The contribution limit for 2019 is $19,000. Employees age 50 or older by year end are also permitted to make additional “catch-up” contributions of $6,000, for a total limit of $25,000 in 2019.

The IRS just announced that the 401(k) contribution limit for 2020 will increase to $19,500 (plus the $6,500 catch-up contribution).

A traditional 401(k)

A traditional 401(k) offers many benefits, including these:

  • Contributions are pretax, reducing your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI), which can also help you reduce or avoid exposure […]
By |November 13th, 2019|401k, retirement|0 Comments

Small Businesses: Get Ready for Your 1099-MISC Reporting Requirements

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A month after the new year begins, your business may be required to comply with rules to report amounts paid to independent contractors, vendors and others. You may have to send 1099-MISC forms to those whom you pay non-employee compensation, as well as file copies with the IRS. This task can be time consuming and there are penalties for not complying, so it’s a good idea to begin gathering information early to help ensure smooth filing.

Deadline

There are many types of 1099 forms. For example, 1099-INT is sent out to report interest income and 1099-B is used to report broker transactions and barter exchanges. Employers must provide a Form 1099-MISC for non-employee compensation by January 31, 2020, to each non-corporate service provider who was paid at least $600 for services during 2019. (1099-MISC forms generally don’t have to be provided to corporate service providers, although there are exceptions.)

A copy of each Form 1099-MISC with payments listed in box […]

By |November 11th, 2019|1099, business, employer|0 Comments